My ability to read a paperback isn't what it used to be. I found I was reading less and less, unless it was on the computer screen. And as you know, the computer screen can fatigue the eyes and give a lovely headache at times. But the new eReaders with their special screens have opened a whole new world for me. Imagine that! An author who has returned to reading! I personally use a Sony Tablet with its incredible backlit screen. Apple has the new Retina screen, Kindle, Nook, and a myriad of other eReaders have advanced their technology so much that reading has become a joy again to many many folks. My mother-in-law can't read a book easily. She is treated for glacoma regularly and has macular degeneration which is kept in check with laser treatments. But imagine her joy at seeing the increased, adjustable sizing of the words which comes along with an eReader.
Here I am writing on this topic and just discovered the Huffington Post published an article just today on Amazon ebook sales, which in part states: "The online retailer said that since April 1, it has sold 105 e-books for every 100 printed books, including printed books for which there is no electronic edition. The comparison excludes free e-books, which would tip the scales further if they were included." They also point out that "analysts estimate that Amazon accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. e-book sales."
You can read the entire article here. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/amazon-ebook-sales-surpas_n_864387.html
This tells us two things. eBooks are here to stay, and if you know Amazon's politics when it comes to writers, you as an author either jump on their bandwagon and join their KDP Select group, which means for 90 days you cannot be published anywhere else, for which you receive a very large financial percentage of the sale price, or you'll be relegated to publishing through their straight KDP and get a pittance for each sale. If you don't join their KDP Select, it does, however, allow you to be retailed through the rest of the big eRetailers; Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc. You can also do KDP Select for 90 days and then be published elsewhere. Kind of a tough choice. It's guerilla warfare by the 10 ton gorilla against the other eRetailers. Am I badmouthing Amazon? Not at all. Business is business and as Mark Coker states in one of his books Amazon is one smart cookie. He just wishes Amazon wouldn't view the rest of the ebook retail world as enemy number one.
In mid July 2012 Mashable published an article stating that ebook sales had surpassed hardcover sales for the first time in U.S. history. http://mashable.com/2012/06/17/ebook-hardcover-sales/ This indicates that the trend is continuing with great upward momentum.
Now let's view the drawbacks. If a collapse of the internet infrastructure ever occurred, sales of ebooks and the eRetail industry in general would also falter and collapse unless an immediate fix was in the offing. However, if such a collapse occurred, you and I would be looking to just survive rather than spending money on an ebook. And what of electrons? No outlet, no charging your ebook. Grrr! All that entertainment trapped inside that magic box.
Another drawback is keeping your "how-to" book available in case of an emergency. It isn't likely you'll be somewhere with a first aid kit and have your eReader along just in case. So there are definitely books that necessitate the possession of hard copies. And let's face it. When you see a book sitting on a table, isn't there just something . . . just that something that you feel when you pick up the book because of the cover and/or name, and you flip the pages to the back, the front, the pitch, and just pick a page inside to read, just to see if it catches your interest? For me there will always be that desire to touch, even if I choose to purchase it in eReader format. Because the pages of a book are like an old friend, a favorite teddy bear, the family dog. If but for a moment, you just have to feel the paper and smell the book to get the full enjoyment that comes with reading.
R.W. Williams is author of "A Deadly Suggestion." A description of this and her other writings can be found at http//:readrwwilliams.com and may be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Amazon, and Apple iBookstore.